THE BLOG

How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

04/24/2015 06:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015
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Last night, I tried to bake some cookies, only to get distracted by email (again) and burning them (again.)  Like I did with the pork cutlets the night before. Needless to say, my kids could give you a long list of my shortcomings as a mother and my failings as a domestic goddess. But that's OK. I hope my own faults and failings will help them be kinder to themselves as they get to know their own.

I have a tendency to be pretty hard on myself. I am always very aware of where I fall short on being the person I'd like to be or doing things as well as I'd like to. And when I do mess up and make a mistake, oh, I'm quite talented at self-berating.

It something I'm working on. Being kinder to myself -- to laugh at myself more, criticize less and be quicker to forgive my failings and fallibility. Like so many things in life... it's a work in progress.

Of course none of us are perfect. We all struggle in our own way. Expecting that we should have it 'all together' all the time sets us up for a lifetime of disappointing ourselves. It also drives us to be critical in how we judge others. Yes, that's something I'm working on too (it's a long list.)

One thing I have learnt though is that by sharing our struggles it lightens their burden, enabling us to handle them better and to avoid the self-destructive shame they can cause us to feel.

In my new book, Brave, I shared the time I confided my struggle with an eating disorder to my friend Anna. I was 19 at the time, and I vividly remember feeling afraid that she'd think of less of me as a result; perhaps even reject me outright.  While it was scary revealing my vulnerability to her but, doing so ultimately helped me to escape the vicious cycle I'd found myself in. It was a powerful lesson in the power we can unleash when we are willing to reveal ourselves more truthfully to those around us.

In my recent interview for RawCourage.TV with positive psychology expert Michelle McQuaid (which you can watch below), we talked about how to be more forgiving of ourselves for being the imperfect 'human-becomings' that we are. As Michelle so wisely said, "Failure is as much as part of our learning and growth process as success."

The negative emotions we create by being overly hard on ourselves not only erode our happiness, but change our physiology. Beating up on yourself actually narrows your peripheral vision so that, both metaphorically and literally, you can see less opportunity to address your challenges, fix your mistakes and create the opportunities you want.

So, rather than being your own worst critic, treat yourself as a good friend might (like Anna did with me all those years ago). Rather than struggling on alone, reach out and share what you wrestle with. And rather than expecting yourself to be all together, embrace your struggles for the opportunity they hold to deepen your learning, your living and your loving.

Most of all, try to be a little kinder to yourself than feels necessary. Do the same for others. The world will be a better place for it.

Oh, and if you fancy dropping in for a coffee and slightly burnt cookie, please do. My darn kids are refusing to eat them!